Picking up sort of where I left off with the Breast Case Scenario post.  

I recovered over the weekend from the lumpectomy surgery and by Thursday of the following week, I had the results. There was one little troublesome spot on the edge of the tissue margin – like so close to the edge it could easily have been missed altogether – and it was going to have to come out. While in there, we would need to take some more tissue from several sides to make sure this spot was a loner. I scheduled the second surgery for the next week, and threw myself a couple of pity parties. Or maybe three. The thought of going in for yet another surgery (my third in a couple of months if you count the cardiac ablation), was daunting to say the least. Plus, the underarm incision for the lymph node removal was still so sore I was pretty miserable. Meh.

So, we once again made our way to the surgical center last week. Luckily, this version didn’t require a divining rod in my chest so the whole process was much easier. I was greeted by a couple of familiar faces.  The anesthesiologist paused as he reviewed my paperwork, “Wait. You we here a week and a half ago?” 

“Yes. I had so much fun I thought we’d do it again! YOLO.” 

They labeled me to make sure they operated on the correct side, and I was totally out cold by the time they wheeled me in around 2:45 and was glued together again and in recovery within the hour. Everything went “splendidly” in doctor-speak. I was once again given a lovely tube top, pink this time, and sent home with an ice pack and a nice hydrocodone prescription. 

(A bit droopy from surgery and a lovely pain pill ingested upon awakening. These people don’t fool around.)

I have been taking it pretty easy since. I decided after the recent emotional trauma to listen to the instructions in my cancer binder that says, “pamper yourself.” This is not a terribly familiar concept to me, so I’m trying it on for size. I’m pleased to say I did manage to sleep until 11:30 AM one of those post surgery days. 

I returned to work for a half day today which turned into more of a 7/8 day. 

Pamper. Fail. 

But I did receive good news this afternoon. The tissue removed last week has been decreed ALL CLEAR. We are now ready to talk radiation. That conversation happens Monday. I guess the speed at which all this is moving is good, because there’s less time to focus on it and fret. 

That’s all I know now, so be on the look out for pampering attempts and whatever comes next. 

*  Special thanks to my mother and Aunt Jan who have attempted to corner the market in comfortable, button up blouses. And to my mother-in-law for homemade pimento cheese. 



I can’t help myself. Dad would have liked that title.

Update: Thursday, in preparation for the lumpectomy on Friday, I returned to the nuclear medicine lab where I’d had the MRI and all that jazz done. They needed to give me some sort of injection. Unfortunately, I Googled what sort of injection I needed before this procedure and as you may have experienced at one time or another, Google scared me silly. There were descriptions of injections (multiple) directly into the “bull’s eye” so to speak, and the declaration that it feels like someone is putting out a cigarette on you. For ten minutes.  By the time I arrived at the lab, I was surprised they couldn’t see my heart beating through my shirt. It was giving my recent cardio ablation a run for its money. I told the nice technician that people were saying terrible things about her on the Internet and she said it was totally untrue. I would get to judge for myself. 

In my case, it was one shot, not four, and while it DID sting quite a bit, it certainly wasn’t torture. Thank goodness. The purpose behind this was to inject another dye that would show the doctor which lymph nodes are the first in the transportation of cells. That way she could remove those for testing while she was doing the lumpectomy. 

The next day we drove through a deluge to the surgical center, where they ushered me into the room where I would receive a wire. This wire would be inserted into the lump with guidance from an ultrasound, then I would be given a mammogram to make certain it was in place. The wire would guide the surgeon to the lump. For some crazy reason I thought the wire would be a tiny, skinny-type wire. Imagine my surprise when I sat up after this procedure and had a TV antennae sticking out of my chest by about 6 inches. It was crazy! They quickly taped it down so I could put on a shirt and make my way to the mammogram machine.  At some point as I stood there with the antenna sticking out again, getting smashed in the mammo contraption I realized it had happened. That moment had come when you are either so sick or so overwhelmed and out of your element that you don’t care if you are shirtless in front of a stranger and have a metal thing sticking out of your chest.  I was a walking dowsing rod. Only instead of water, I would lead you to Chardonnay. 

Everything looked correct on the mammogram, so I was taped down again and walked across the hall to where the actual procedure would take place. I got to change into one of those gorgeous hospital gowns/tarps and prepare to meet the anesthesiologist, surgeon, etc. in the meantime, while Robert sat beside me behaving quite properly, I decided I needed to start a texting group and let my besties know what was happening moment by moment. I will plug that text message in on another post. It’s probably not as enjoyable to you as it was for me, but I want it on the record anyway. 

To cut to the chase, the surgery went great. Lymph nodes look totally normal but she’s sending them in anyway for testing. I should hear about that this week. I was wrapped in yet another fashion forward item – a tube top – and told to wear it for 2 days, if possible. Which I did. Then I gladly removed it.  I slept most of the evening after surgery and then was strangely awake all day Saturday and Sunday. No naps. Monday, I couldn’t get enough sleep. Go figure. 

Okay, ending it here for this report. More to come.


“Hi, I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.”

A slow growing, less than 2 cm infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It’s grade 1, so basically as good as it can get for bad news. At this point it looks like the next steps are a lumpectomy and 6 weeks of radiation. So, we’re really almost done with the whole thing. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)

This happened really quickly. I was at work about a month and a half ago and suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left upper breast/chest area. I held a hand over it, which is really not a good look for the office, and just muddled through until it stopped hurting. Then it was totally out of site out of mind.  Probably 2 weeks later I was reading in bed and felt another sharp pain in the same location.  Inspecting it more closely, I found…a lump. 

The next day I called my doctor, who got me in for a mammogram the NEXT day. A few days later I was back in, getting a biopsy. (Ouch.) Two days later my doctor’s office called and asked me to come in for the results. Full on panic started then. Never a good sign. It was around this time that shock set in. And a little parking lot car crying may have taken place.

Luckily, I have a great doctor. Surgeons were recommended. Appointments made. It became basically waiting from day to day to find out what was happening next. What was the news? Results? It was so surreal. I could not stop thinking about my friend Leah being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and dying two years later. Although my initial results looked good, I couldn’t help but think at three in the morning, “What if this is a secondary location? What if I’m riddled with cancer? Is that why my hip hurts? Does that explain my migraines lately? As fast as my doctors were moving, and it was FAST, there was still waiting time, and it felt endless. I started writing the night before the last round of tests. It was 1:30 AM and I’d been trying to sleep for hours. I had an MRI, bone scan and CT scan awaiting me the next day. This was my stream of thought: 

– Tonight I am a little nervous about the MRI and scans tomorrow, but I know in my head that chances are really small that anything will have spread. I SHOULD be worried about my sudden break up with estrogen therapy. My little tumor (to be named later) is estrogen receptive. That means estrogen is no friend of mine, and has to go. Which is funny (not), because without it I am a mess. Within hours of removing the patch, I was unaccountably annoyed. With everything.  Maybe now is the time I should learn to laugh at the small stuff. Small stuff I suck at. Big stuff? I’m a freakin’ rock. Mostly. 

It’s 2 AM now. The hot flashes and monkeys in my head are still at it. I’m waiting. Waiting for the test, biopsy, results, appointment, phone call. Good news. Bad news. Whatever. After the tests tomorrow, I could hear from Dr. G in the afternoon. Or, it might be Friday. It definitely won’t be later than that. And this will tell me if there are any other places they see anything suspicious. So I feel like once I know that, we can move forward. In the meantime, I guess I’ll go with this nervous breakdown/insomnia thing.

So, as I said earlier, the tests were good. Compared to what many women go through, this is a cake walk. I’m almost embarrassed to even call it cancer. I feel there’s an in between something it could be called. But then again, I have the option of lumpectomy or full mastectomy, so that’s just scary. That’s for real, right? Not pleasant  to consider. Life changing. I just keep going back and forth between feeling really lucky and feeling terrible. I haven’t settled on an emotion yet. And maybe I just won’t. 

That ought to be fun for everyone around me. Woohoo! Which way is the wind blowing today?

Side note: when you’re diagnosed with cancer, they give you a 3-ring binder. With tabs. It’s like they realize your mind was just blown and someone has to organize you or you’ll fall apart. Which is probably very true.  For the past 2 weeks, all my test results and doctor stuff was in my purse. Wadded up. Now it’s hole punched. Cancer will motivate you to get your s#!& together.

Well, some of it.  Don’t expect miracles, people. I’m still a hot mess. And I can promise you, no matter what, that will not change. 

Okay, so that’s that.  More to come.